Even if you have the best techs and newest equipment of any IT support company or managed service provider in your geographical area, your business may stagnate or even begin to die off if you don’t let people know about your services. Although many IT business owners may not want to deal with the marketing side of their business, even starting with a small strategy can eventually pay off in the long run.
There’s no reason to be afraid of marketing, especially if you run a successful IT support company. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, try to break down your marketing strategy by thinking of three key questions. In fact, these are so important they also happen to have fancy marketing-speak terms.
- What are you selling? (Unique selling position)
- Who are you selling it to? (Target market)
- How are you selling it? (Marketing methods)
These are important to consider in any business, but here we'll look at them as they apply in IT.
What Are You Selling?
The first step in any successful marketing strategy is simple enough: Figure out what makes your product different. In marketing speak, this is known as the "unique selling position." Take a long look at your business and the services you offer and ask yourself this: What makes someone want to buy my product or service as opposed to the other guy’s? For example, do you offer 24/7 tech support? Cloud services? Maybe you're Microsoft Certified. Whatever you think it is that you have going for you, ask yourself whether these qualifications can make your business stand out from your competitors.
Finding and Hitting Your Target Market
Once you've figured out what makes your product different, it's time to determine who wants to buy it. This is your target market. Who are you marketing your IT services for? Small businesses? Medium businesses? The home user? Each one of these market segments will require a unique approach to marketing and advertising. After all, the goal in marketing is not just to get your message across, but to deliver it to the right people. (Another way to get your message out is through blogging; for more on that, see Is It Time for You to Start That Tech Blog?)
For example, the IT medical industry is highly vertically integrated. Is there a tech company servicing the dentists in your area? Many of them will have the same needs, so once you’ve set up your IT company to cater toward dentists' specific IT needs, bringing on additional customers of this type will be much easier.
The last part of marketing strategy is to determine the marketing methods that you plan on using to help promote your business to potential customers. This is the area where you can unleash the marketing genius buried inside you. If there's any time to get creative, this is it.
You can spend as little or as much as you want in this area. A more expensive method, but one that works even in our connected world, is direct mail (some might prefer to use the term "junk mail"). The key to making direct mail working is to use a highly targeted mailing list. Looking to specialize in medical IT? There’s no point in spending money printing up mailers to send out to lawyer firms, right? Another option, and one that might appeal to your IT side, is to spend time driving traffic to your company website through the use of search engine optimization (SEO). (To learn more about SEO, see SEO's Not Dead, It's Just Changing.)
Are you a budding filmmaker? A viral video with the right message can attract thousands of viewers, and has the potential to convert more than a few of them into clients. Of course, this method might not work for an IT company marketing toward local small businesses, but then again, a little extra publicity never hurts.
Your IT Marketing Strategy
Marketing your IT business should be a part of your overall business strategy or plan. The three areas that we’ve covered here are by no means the only steps for marketing strategy, but they’ll at least help you get started on the path to making your IT marketing work and growing your company.
If you get it right, you'll be amazed at how far a little well-placed marketing will take you.